2011 was an eventful year for the continent of Africa, not least because of the wave of protest movements that was launched in Tunisia and then spread all over the world in various forms. Below is a roundup of some wonderful happenings on the African continent that you may have missed.
Algeria opened its first underground rail system in the capital, Algiers. The only other underground rail in Africa is in Cairo, Egypt. Tunisians peacefully deposed long-time president Ben-Ali and held elections to usher in their first democratic government. Well done, Tunisia! Uprisings in Egypt and Libya also led to a change in executive leadership in both countries, although in less peaceful ways than the Tunisian transition. Other North African governments, most notably Morocco, scrambled to give the people more of what they want, in order to avoid similar uprisings in their own countries.
Miss Angola, Leila Lopes, was crowned Miss Universe in September; the Kingdom of Lesotho keeps taking giant steps towards gender equality and is ahead of some Western countries; and Zambia generated a lot of buzz all over the world due to the appointment of its first white Zambian as Vice President. In South Africa, paint factories run by our ancestors 100,000 years ago were unearthed. They demonstrate how forward thinking our people were.
In Rwanda, Gregory Tayi has pioneered renewable energy by building small hydro-electric stations on some of the country’s rivers to provide electricity. Tanzania hosted its 4th annual Swahili Fashion Week to mark 50 years of independence and promote East African designers; a few southern African designers were also invited to participate. The Republic of South Sudan, Africa’s newest nation, was finally born after years of struggle. And if you haven’t heard, Ethiopia now has one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Angelique Kidjo, the amazing singer from Benin, continued to be an Ambassador for Africa as she entertained audiences around the world. Cape Verde graduated from the list of Least Developed Countries to become a middle-income country, and its President, Pedro de Verona Rodrigues Pires, was awarded the Mo Ibrahim award for African Governance. Cape Verde is a nation without corruption, and one of Africa’s success stories.
Mali celebrated African photographers at the Bamako Encounters in November. That same month the Paris Photo international fair was dedicated to Africa. Meanwhile, serial entrepreneur Magatte Wade, is redefining Senegal’s (and Africa’s) place in the world through manufacturing.